Costumes for the 40’s

Posted by Jen on 11/07/2012 in 40's fashion, Fashion Ideas, Goodwood Revival, War and Peace Show |

The 1940’s were a tough time for Britain. The second world war continued through the beginning of the decade which had a massive effect on the people of Europe as well as across the globe. Rationing also had an effect on the economy, continuing long after the war as the country slowly got back to normality. However, even with the challenges faced, Brits still managed to look immaculate conducting themselves with sophistication and elegance.

The fashion industry also continued to slowly move forward even with rationing imposed on popular materials like leather and wool. The War had an effect on the colours people wore with nautical, greens and khaki becoming more popular to show support for the war. Shortages of materials meant that people needed to be more thrifty with their clothing which meant repairing old clothes and women using their husbands old suits to make outfits for themselves. Ladies who traditionally wore a dress or longer skirt found they needed to wear trousers due to shortages in materials to make stockings. This encouraged the tailored look which represents 40’s fashion today.

By 1947, the fashion houses had opened again and designers worked hard to change the direction of fashion. The new look worked on creating a silhouette figure and focused on the tailoring which became popular during the war period and how this could be made more feminine. As a result, the late 40’s became popular for fitted dresses, skirts and tailored jackets. Ladies would accessorize their clothing with fascinator hats, fur shawls and little gloves. The dresses in this era are very much like you would see within an office today.

Men’s fashion was very similar, with tailoring and uniforms being prominent. With the World War taking up much of the 40’s, army/navy uniforms were very popular. This look also fits very well with WW2 military history. As with women’s fashion, the tailored look was also very popular for men. As the rationing continued, soldiers were provided with suits from the Government which were usually navy or grey pinstripe suits. As the restrictions eased, men’s suits changed, with turn ups becoming becoming popular and trousers becoming fuller. All looks were finished off with a hat, whether it be a uniform hat, trilby or fedora. Even in their spare time, men would be seen in smart, tailored clothing.

The vintage look is extremely popular at the moment and Mad Hatters have all these outfits and more available for hire. So if the 40’s era is the one you want to recreate then give us a call and we can talk through your 40’s style options.

If you are attending the Goodwood Revival this year then give us a call at Mad Hatters on 01580 830757 for help in finding the perfect outfit.  You can also visit our website on


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